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Lung (Pulmonary) Rehabilitation

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What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary Rehabilitation (or lung rehab) is a free programme of exercise and information provided by the NHS for people living with a long term lung condition like COPD.  It is one of the most effective ways to support people living with lung disease.

The courses combine physical exercise with advice and information, helping people manage their breathlessness, get active, improve their quality of life AND reduce hospital admissions. Health guidance recommends that Pulmonary Rehabilitation should be provided by the NHS as a treatment option for people living with long-term lung conditions.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is campaigning for better access to Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The availability of these courses is a postcode lottery. In some areas you can get on a course within 2 weeks – in other areas the average wait for a place is over half a year.  In the Borders area, there is no lung rehab available at all.

There are an estimated 69,000 people living with lung disease who would benefit from lung rehab, but there are currently only spaces for about one in ten people.

We want more people to be able to access lung rehab when and where they need it.


Our survey of NHS Health Boards

Summary version and our Call to Action:
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Call to Action (PDF)

Read the full survey:
CHSS & SPRAG Pulmonary Rehab survey 2017 (PDF)

How to get involved in our campaign

Write to your MSP and local councillors explaining why Pulmonary Rehabilitation is important.  Tell them about your experiences, and ask them to support our campaign.

Information on who to write to and a sample letter (PDF)

We have surveyed NHS Health Boards in Scotland about the lung rehab they provide, in partnership with the Scottish Pulmonary Rehabilitation Action Group.  Our findings show that:

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation courses aren’t available everywhere.
  • There are 9,000 places available each year, but an estimated 69,000 people would benefit from lung rehab.
  • Some people who would benefit from lung rehab are not being referred by their Health Professional.
  • People sometimes do not take up the offer as they are not told how important it is, or don’t think they’ll be able to
    exercise.
  • Many people find it difficult to keep attending without additional support.
  • If people don’t continue to be physically active they can lose the benefits of lung rehab after just 6-12 months. The only way to continue to enjoy the benefits is to keep exercising.

Let us know about your own experiences of managing your lung condition

Were you able to attend a course of Pulmonary Rehabilitation? How did it make a difference to you?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How we can help you

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland helps people to stay active and maintain the benefits of attending Pulmonary Rehabilitation. We have groups across Scotland that support people to stay active. From health information about living with your condition to local support in your area, or to talk to a specialist Advice Line nurse we want to help you take back control.